A retired FBI agent who served at the agency for 24 years said an “informant” likely provided information that led to the raid Monday at former President Donald Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago.
“I think somebody gave them information indicating these documents are there,” retired FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Tabman told the Daily Mail. He added that authorities likely suspected they had not been told the truth about the existence of the documents or had reason to believe that raiding the former president’s Florida residence was the only way they would be able to obtain the records.
“I think there was inside information — call it an informant if you want,” Tabman said. “I believe either someone told them something or some other information was stumbled upon, which was kind of conclusive in their minds that they had to go now to get that or they’re not getting it.”
The raid was reportedly related to boxes of materials Trump brought with him to Mar-a-Lago after he left office in January 2021, multiple news outlets reported. Presidential records were found in 15 boxes obtained from Trump’s resort and included classified materials, the National Archives and Records Administration said.
Tabman added that Attorney General Merrick Garland or assistant Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco would have personally approved a raid of such political sensitivity. He said the FBI would have needed to prove probable cause to obtain a search warrant from a “neutral third party” judge for the raid.
“You know, everything could disappear,” the retired FBI agent said. “You got evidence that you need to get before it disappears or it moves and you can’t see it anymore.”
Tabman said he hasn’t seen any information suggesting that any protocols were broken in the raid, but he said it was still an “unprecedented” move for the FBI to conduct a search of a former president’s home.
“I can’t think of this having happened to a former president,” he said.
Trump said in a statement Monday that FBI officers had “broke into [his] safe” in Mar-a-Lago.
“These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” Trump said.
Eric Trump, the former president’s second son, said Monday that his father “didn’t even have anything in the safe.”
A senior White House official told CBS News that President Joe Biden’s team had no prior notice of the raid.
Trump said in February that he fully cooperated with the National Archives after news broke that it had obtained classified materials from Mar-a-Lago.
“The National Archives did not ‘find’ anything, they were given, upon request, Presidential Records in an ordinary and routine process to ensure the preservation of my legacy and in accordance with the Presidential Records Act,” Trump said in the February statement. “If this was anyone but ‘Trump,’ there would be no story here. Instead, the Democrats are in search of their next Scam.”
The boxes contained Trump’s correspondence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a letter addressed to Trump by then-outgoing President Barack Obama, and other communications from world leaders, the Washington Post reported. Trump advisers said in February that Trump did not retain the records for nefarious reasons.
Reporting from The Washington Examiner.